JERUSALEM – Israel’s military retaliated to rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on Friday with strikes on posts used by the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules the territory. The exchange caused no casualties on either side.
The Israeli military said tanks and aircraft fired at Hamas posts soon after its Iron Dome missile defense system downed two rockets fired from Gaza targeting the south of the country. Police said another rocket exploded in a populated area damaging a building but causing no injuries.
Hamas said there were no injuries in the strikes.
Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks initiated from the territory regardless of the gunmen firing the rockets.
The rockets came as the family of Oron Shaul, an Israeli soldier killed in the 2014 Gaza-Israel war, held a birthday ceremony for him near the border prompting some participants to take cover.
Hamas is holding on to Shaul’s remains along with those of another soldier killed in the fighting, demanding Israel release dozens of Palestinian prisoners before it opens negotiations on returning them. Hamas is also believed to be holding two Israeli civilians in Gaza.
There has been an uptick in Gaza rocket fire since President Donald Trump on Dec. 6 abandoned decades of American policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and saying he would move the U.S. Embassy to the holy city.
Palestinians were enraged by Trump’s declaration, viewing it as siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in the conflict. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said Trump’s move disqualified the U.S. from continuing in its role as the traditional mediator of peace talks.
Trump said his decision merely recognizes that Jerusalem already serves as Israel’s capital and is not meant to prejudge the final borders of the city.
Palestinians have clashed with Israeli troops across the West Bank and along the Gaza border since Trump’s announcement. Twelve Palestinians have died in the violence so far.
Palestinian health officials said dozens of protesters were injured on Friday, including some by live fire and rubber bullets.
Israel’s military said about 2,000 Palestinians rolled burning tires and threw rocks at soldiers stationed near the Gaza border and troops fired “selectively against four main instigators.”
It said troops used riot dispersal means in protests across the West Bank where Palestinians threw fire bombs and stones at soldiers.
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